SAULT STE. MARIE - Sophomore goaltender Jeff Jakaitis and junior forward Nathan Ward were named co-winners of Lake Superior State hockey's most valuable player award during the 23rd annual Soo Blue Liners Banquet held Saturday at the Cisler Center.
Jakaitis is currently LSSU's career leader in save percentage at .923. This season, he was 5-18-4 and ranked fifth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in save percentage at .917. He had a goals-against average of 2.88 this season and has moved up to third on LSSU's career goals-against chart at 2.57. He was named CCHA Goaltender of the Week on Jan. 10 for stopping 73 of 75 shots in a home series against Notre Dame, and totaled a career-high 49 saves in a 2-2 tie with Alaska Fairbanks on Jan. 28.
Ward, who was one of the Lakers' tri-captains this season, was second on the team in scoring with nine goals and eight assists for 17 points. He was also named the team's most-valuable forward. The highlight of his season was a two-goal, one-assist performance in the Lakers' 3-2 victory over Miami - a game which was televised on FSN Detroit.
Jakaitis, who carries a 3.5 grade point average while majoring in business, was also named the Blue Liners' Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was LSSU's nominee for the CCHA Scholar-Athlete Award and the Lakers' Perani Cup points leader.
Junior Ren Fauci, who overcame an early-season injury to finish with four goals and seven assists for the 9-22-7 Lakers, was named most valuable defenseman.
Juniors BJ Pelkey and Eric Hill shared the most-improved player award, while forward Dan Eves was named outstanding freshman.
Pelkey battled hard to earn a spot in the Lakers' lineup and finally earned a chance four games into the season. He drew an assist in his first game against Michigan and wound up with four goals and three assists in 27 games. Hill, who was the first Sault, Mich., player to wear a Laker sweater in a game since Jason Welch in 1993, added much-needed depth to the LSSU's defensive corps when the roster was depleted early in the season.
Eves totaled five goals and six assists as a freshman and was the Lakers' plus-minus leader at +3.
Sophomore forward Jeff Rainville received the Gay Blade Award, while Trent Campbell, a sophomore forward, was named Soo Blue Liners Player of the Year. Campbell was third on the team in scoring with six goals and 10 assists.
Lake Superior State press release here.